What are your dreams? What are your strengths? If you’re lucky they overlap, but sometimes you have to choose one over the other.


 

 


Follow your dreams? Or follow your strengths?

One of my heroes is the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004.)

Cartier-Bresson wanted to be a painter when he was a young man, but couldn’t make a go of it.

Finally, in the early 1930s, Cartier-Bresson picked up a camera as a consolation. 

For the next 40 or so years, Carter-Bresson was one of the all-time great photographers, combining journalism and art, traveling the world capturing one brilliant, one-of-a-kind image after another. 

Then, in his early 60s, Cartier-Bresson announced he was retiring from photography to go back to painting.

He spent the last 30 or so years of his life with a pencil or brush, cranking out one boring painting after another of the sort you find gathering dust in any college art department.

Eeeeerrrrgggh! Carter-Bresson quit doing the skill he was great at to do one wasn’t especially good at, but enjoyed more, and that filled a hole in his soul photography didn’t.

We hear a lot about how you should follow your dreams. 

Yeah, okay, whatever, that’s fine, but what about when your dreams aren’t your strengths? What then?

The late science fiction writer Philip K. Dick came up with an imaginary example I’m going to mention here, because it’s relevant.

What if Beethoven’s dream was to work in a deli?

What if Beethoven just loved making sandwiches? What if he loved everything about the soul of the bread, the spirit of the cheese, the heart of the salami...

But what if Beethoven wasn’t any good at it? No matter how hard he tried, the lettuce kept falling out of the bun, he kept cutting himself with the bread knife, he always burned the cheese....

So Beethoven finally had to give up his dream of making sandwiches, and write brilliant symphonies and string quartets instead, because it was the only thing he was any good at.

What are your dreams? What are your strengths? If you’re lucky they overlap, but sometimes you have to choose one over the other.

You’ve got both. Just don’t be one of those people who choose to follow neither.

. . .

Next Monday’s Redwood Gazette will contain our latest Bridal special section, “To Have and To Hold.”

I interviewed four Redwood couples this month to learn what makes them tick, and heard some cool wedding day stories.

I’ve also put together a list of 26 potential couples  to ask for next June’s Bridal section. Don’t be surprised if you’re on it....